From a fleece to a coat in 24 Hours

NewburyCoat

Newbury, Berkshire – Map: Ordnance Survey Old Series 1817

In June 1811, John Coxeter,  a well-known cloth manufacturer, the owner of nearby Greenham Mills, took on the challenge of the making of a legendary coat for Sir John Throckmorton.

Coxeter, is reported to have said “So great are the improvements in machinery I have lately introduced into my mill, that I believe that in twenty- four hours I could take the coat off your back, reduce it to wool, and turn it back into a coat again”.

So impressed was Sir John with Coxeter’s claim that not long after the conversation had taken place, Sir John Throckmorton laid a bet of a thousand guineas that at eight o’clock in the evening of June the 25th, 1811, he would sit down to dinner in a well-woven, properly-made coat, the wool of which would come from fleeces still on the sheeps’ backs at five o’clock that same morning. Most thought the feat impossible and it was not long before his bet was eagerly accepted.

Promptly at five o’clock operations commenced, and no time was lost in getting the sheep shorn, the wool was washed, spun, and woven. The cloth was manufactured, dyed and prepared by four o’clock in the afternoon. Just eleven hours after the arrival of the two sheep in Coxeter’s mill-yard. The cloth was now put into the hands of the tailors. Mr. James White, together with nine of his men, began the process of turning the cloth into a “well woven, properly made coat”. For the next two and a quarter hours the tailors were busy cutting out, stitching, pressing, and sewing on buttons and at twenty minutes past six Mr. Coxeter presented the coat to Sir John Throckmorton, who, before over five thousand people who had gathered to watch, put on the coat and sat down to dinner with 40 invited guests in time for dinner to be taken at eight o’clock that evening.

Throckmorton won his 1000 guineas and John Coxeter had the sheep roasted for the crowds that had gathered to see the fun, as well as donating 120 gallons of beer in one of the greatest publicity stunts of the age.

The original coat is still displayed at Coughton Court near Alcester the seat of the Throckmorton family since 1409.

Newbury, however, has its own version of the coat, produced when the feat was repeated in 1991 – knocking a further hour off the record!

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Maps, Mudge and the Census!

Mudge Map of Essex

Map: Thames Estuary (OS Old Series 1:50,000 – Published 1805)

The history of the Ordnance Survey’s mapping began in 1791 when the government, fearful of the threat of an invasion by French revolutionary forces, instructed the then Board of Ordnance to make a detailed survey of the vulnerable southern regions of England.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century some maps at the one-inch (1:63,360) scale based on Board of Ordnance surveys were already available to the public, including Kent (1801 – the ‘Mudge map’). The first published by the Ordnance Survey itself was the map of Essex which appeared in 1805. This was the start of a nationally (England & Wales) numbered map series, which later became known as theOld Series.

On the 10th March 1801, the same year as the ‘Mudge Map’ of Kent was published, the first official census was held in Britain.

Objections were raised as some felt that the census was aimed at extracting revenue. Others feared that in the era of the Napoleonic Wars the information would inevitably see its way into the hands of the enemy, allowing Bonaparte to plan an invasion of the British Isles.

By 1800 the need for a census had become greater than the resistance to it. Talk of population growth outstripping the ability of the country to feed that population was a forceful argument in favour of compiling the statistics.

Thus the Census Act of 1800 was passed on 3rd December 1800, receiving royal assent on the 31st December and  the census was carried out on Monday March 10th 1801.

Estimates of the size of the population varied from 8 million to 11 million. The actual figures proved to be: 8.3 million people in England – women outnumbering men by 300,000; the Welsh population was 542,000; and Scotland 1.6 million. Thus the total population at the beginning of the 19th century was officially recorded as 10.4 million.

Find out about the history of your area. Visit Cassini Maps

Map of the month – Rugby, men and odd shaped balls.

Rugby School

Rugby School, Warwickshire (MAP: OS Town Plans 1:500 – published in 1887)

Nearly two centuries of Rugby’s history are written in the stones that stand around Rugby School, where in 1823 William Webb Ellis is said to have first picked up the ball and run, hence inventing the game of rugby football.

Although the evidence for the story is doubtful, it was immortalised at the school with a plaque unveiled in 1895.

Webb Ellis was born in Salford, Lancashire in November 1806. After the death of his father, his mother decided to move to Rugby, Warwickshire so that William and his older brother Thomas could receive an education at Rugby School with no cost as a local foundationer (i.e. a pupil living within a radius of 10 miles of the Rugby Clock Tower).

After leaving Rugby in 1826, he went to Brasenose College, Oxford. He played cricket for his college, and for Oxford University After graduation he entered the Church and became chaplain of St George’s Chapel, Albemarle Street, London and then rector of St. Clement Danes in The Strand.

He never married and died in the south of France in 1872. His grave in “le cimetière du vieux château” at Menton in Alpes Maritimes was rediscovered by Ross McWhirter in 1958 and has since been renovated by the French Rugby Federation.

The players then were more numerous: in 1839, when Queen Adelaide visited the School, it was School House versus The Rest.  The School House team numbered 75 boys and The Rest 225.

A significant event in the early development of rugby football was the production of the first written laws of the game at Rugby School in 1845, which was followed by the ‘Cambridge Rules’ drawn up in 1848 leading to the formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871.

The code was originally known as “rugby football”; it was not until after the schism in England in 1895, which resulted in the separate code of rugby league, that the sport took on the name “rugby union” to differentiate it from the league game. Despite the sport’s full name of rugby union, it is known simply as rugby throughout most of the world.

Despite the doubtful evidence, the current Rugby World Cup trophy is named after Webb Ellis.

Find out about the history of your area. Visit Cassini Maps

Cassini Maps Sale – 25% OFF!

Cassini Quad Map

Last few days of this Special Offer! – 25% Off all maps (ends 30th Sept 2015)
Use the code C-SUN15 to claim your Discount.

Simply enter the code when prompted during checkout. P&P applies as normal.
Offer applies to all maps available on www.cassinimaps.co.uk
Including our Quad maps (4 maps of the same location but from diferent time periods) as shown above.

New! – Cassini brings you Ordnance Survey’s most detailed historical mapping.
Cassini’s Town Plan mapping is the most detailed historical Ordnance Survey mapping available. Easy to find and download.
Town Plan Map

Maps published from the mid 1800’s to the 1920’s
• Instant downloads only £9.99 (RRP:£14.99)
• Ideal for Family History research
• Choose maps from 468 available Towns
• Amazing detail – 1:500, 1:528 and 1:1056 scales (dependent on location)

These maps were published for larger towns and cities at scales of 1:500, (c.10′ to 1 mile), 1:528 (exactly 10′ to 1 mile) and 1:1056 (5′ to 1 mile) from the mid 1800’s onwards. An immense amount of detail is shown, down to every lamp-post and every pillar-box, even paths, trees and sheds in peoples gardens. For those who are particularly interested in local history and genealogy, the town plans are essential research tool.

Find maps of your area on the Cassini Maps website Town Plan Maps

Mapmaker Plus – Price drop!

Create your own bespoke maps with Mapmaker Plus.

Mapmaker PlusNow available from £14.99

Large format maps supplied folded or rolled. A total combination of 13 map scales and series. Maps available from 1805 to the present day. Choose from seven OS Historical Map Series.

Now includes six present day Ordnance survey mapping series.

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Check out Cassini Mapmaker Plus custom made maps: Mapmaker Plus

Map of the month – Plymouth

Plymouth (Ordnance Survey Popular Edition 1:50,000 – published in 1919)
Plymouth
28th Nov 1919. Nancy Astor elected Member of Parliament for Plymouth, becoming Britain’s first woman MP.

Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess Astor (19 May 1879 — 2 May 1964) was an American-born socialite who made a second marriage to Waldorf Astor as a young woman in England. After he succeeded to the peerage and entered the House of Lords, she entered politics, in 1919 winning his former seat in Plymouth and becoming the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. She served in Parliament as a representative of the Conservative Party for Plymouth Sutton until 1945, when she was persuaded to step down.

Contrary to popular belief she was not the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament. The first was Countess Constance Markievicz but as a Sinn Féin MP she followed their abstentionist policy and refused her seat, making Nancy Astor the first serving woman MP.

In the 1930’s Nancy Astor and several of her friends and associates became heavily involved in the German appeasement policy; this group became known as the “Cliveden set”, a Germanophile social network that was in favour of friendly relations with Germany.
Nancy Astor was also friends with US Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Reportedly as fiercely anti-Communist as they were anti-Semitic, Kennedy and Astor looked upon Adolf Hitler as a welcome solution to both of these “world problems”. In a 1939 speech, a fellow MP called her “The Member for Berlin”.

After serving for 26 years (1919 – 1945) The Tories believed she had become a political liability and her husband said that if she ran for office again the family would not support her. So in 1945 she retired from politics.

On one occasion, while canvassing in Plymouth, she was greeted at a door by a young girl whose mother was away. As Astor was unfamiliar with the area, she had been given a naval officer as an escort. The girl, when asked about her mother, replied: “…but she said if a lady comes with a sailor they’re to use the upstairs room and leave ten bob”.

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Map of the month – Blackpool before the tower 1891

Blackpool

Blackpool (Ordnance Survey County Series 1:1,056 – Surveyed  C.1891, published in 1893)

For centuries Blackpool was a small hamlet by the sea. Its name stems from a historic drainage channel that ran over a peat bog, discharging discoloured water into the Irish Sea, which formed a black pool (on the other side of the sea, the name “Dublin” (Dubh Linn) is derived from the Irish for “black pool”).

By the middle of the 18th century, the practice of bathing in the sea to cure diseases was becoming fashionable among the wealthier classes, and visitors began making the trek to Blackpool for that purpose. The 1801 census records the town’s population at only 473, but by 1851 the population had risen to over 2,500.  However, Blackpool only grew into a substantial town when the railway was built connecting it to the industrial towns of the north. The first railway in the area opened in 1840 but it only ran as far as Poulton. In 1846 a branch line was built from Poulton to Blackpool, making it much easier and cheaper for visitors to reach the coast.

Blackpool Tower was built between 1891 and 1894, but before the tower visitors flocked to Dr. Cocker’s Aquarium, Aviary and Menagerie, which had existed on the site since 1873. It was kept open to earn revenue while the tower building went up around it, and then became one of the tower’s major attractions. It housed 57 different species of fresh water and salt water fish and the largest tank held 32,000 litres of salt water. The menagerie and aviary, one of the finest collections in the country, included lions, tigers, and polar bears.

The Blackpool Tower Company bought the Aquarium on Central Promenade in 1890 with the intention of building a replica Eiffel Tower on the site. Two Lancashire architects, James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, designed the Tower and oversaw the laying of its foundation stone, on 29 September 1891

When the tower opened on 14 May 1894, 3,000 customers took the first rides to the top. Tourists paid sixpence for admission, sixpence more for a ride in the lifts to the top (the option was 563 steps from the roof of the tower building to the flagpole at the top) and a further sixpence for entry to the circus.

The Tower Circus, which is positioned at the base of the tower between its four legs, first opened to the public on 14 May 1894 and has not missed a season since. The circus ring can be lowered into a pool of water that holds 42,000 gallons at a depth of up to 4 ft 6 inches, which allows for Grand Finales with Dancing Fountains. The Tower Circus is one of only four venues left in the world that can do this.

The tower was not painted properly during the first thirty years and became corroded, leading to discussions about its demolishing. However it was decided to rebuild it instead, and between 1921 and 1924 all of the steelwork in the structure of the tower was replaced and renewed.

With attractions like these, the building of the Promenade, the three Piers (North, Central and South), tram rides and the famous Illuminations, Blackpool continued to grow until by 1951 the population had grown to 147,000. Today the population of Blackpool has settled back to a healthy 142,000.

If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

Coastal erosion and the vanishing towns

Ordnance Survey Old Series – 1837 and Ordnance Survey – 2013

Coastal Erosion on the East Coast

Covehithe

is a hamlet and civil parish in the Waveney district of the English county of Suffolk.
It lies on the North Sea coast around 4 miles north of Southwold and 7 miles south of Lowestoft.

In the Domesday survey of 1086 the village is named as Nordhalla or Nordhals and is recorded as being a medium sized settlement with 13 households of freemen or smallholders.

In the Middle Ages Covehithe prospered as a small town and during the reign of Edward I was granted the right to hold a fair on the feast day of St Andrew. By the 17th Century however it had fallen victim, like nearby Dunwich, to coastal erosion and now modern Covehithe has a population of around 20.

Cliff edgeErosion caused the coastline at Covehithe to retreat more than 500 metres between the 1830s and 2001, according to contemporary Ordnance Survey maps. This can be seen most obviously on the sand cliffs above the beach where the road running from the church simply falls away down onto the beach.

The coastal cliffs at Covehithe are formed of glacial sands and other deposits, consequently they are loose and unconsolidated and erode at up to 4.5 metres a year. The main part of the settlement at Covehithe is around 250 metres from the current shoreline, but some say it’s possible that Covehithe could be lost to erosion by as early as 2040.

The Monty Python sketch ‘The First Man To Jump The Channel’ was partly filmed at Covehithe beach, although, of course, the Channel was narrower then…

If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

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The Battle of the Medway & Dutch courage

Chatham - The Battle of Medway
Map: Ordnance Survey Old Series – 1805

Battle of the Medway

Contrary to popular belief British shores have been invaded may times. The most damaging to our prestige and morale, since the Battle of Hastings, was a Dutch attack on The Medway in 1667, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

Charles II’s Navy was in a reduced state due to recent expenditure restrictions. With London largely destroyed by fire the previous year (having already been ravaged by plague), Charles had his fleet laid up in Chatham. The Dutch decided this was the moment to attack, and it proved one of the boldest naval raids in history.

The Battle of the Medway, as it was to become known, began on June 10, as the Dutch, with a fleet of about thirty ships, attacked the Island of Sheppey. Under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter the Dutch bombarded and then captured the town of Sheerness.

By the 12th June 1667 they had sailed up the River Medway towards Chatham. The Dutch fired upon the few poorly-armed and poorly-manned ships they encountered, broke through the six-inch thick iron chain stretched across the Medway to the East of Gillingham Fort (the English fleets the primary defence against invaders) and upon reaching Chatham the dockyard was set ablaze and Upnor Castle bombarded. Fireships caused havoc with the moored English warships, burning three of the four largest “big ships” of the navy and ten lesser naval vessels, as well as capturing HMS Unity and HMS Royal Charles, flagship of the English fleet, which they towed away as war trophies.

On the 14th June, fearing a growing English resistance, the Dutch decided to forego a further penetration and withdraw. After attacking several other ports on the English east coast, a failed attempt to enter the Thames beyond Gravesend and a Dutch marine force landed near Woodbridge north of Harwich, which was repelled, the Dutch fleet withdrew.

The raid led to a quick end to the war and a favourable peace for the Dutch was signed on 21 July 1667.

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Mad Jack, a bear and a frozen lake

Map of the week – Mad Jack, a bear and a frozen lake
Halston HallMap: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 County Series from 1874

John “Mad Jack” Mytton (30 September 1796 – 29 March 1834) was born to a family of squires and  became notorious as a notable British eccentric and Regency rake.

Jack, on entry to Cambridge University, took with him 2,000 bottles of port to sustain himself during his education. After his studies he embarked on The Grand Tour of Europe followed by a spell of Military Service before inheriting the family seat at Halston Hall, Whittington (near Oswestry in Shropshire) along with an annual income of £20,000 (close to £800,000 in today’s money), which he proceeded to spend at an unsustainable rate and with an increasingly eccentric behaviour.

At Halston, on a freezing winters day, he would lead his small army of stable lads on rat hunts, each stable boy equipped with ice skates.

He arrived at one particular dinner party at Halston Hall riding a bear and when he tried to make it go faster the beast bit deep into his calf. Despite being bitten, Mad Jack kept the bear Nell as a pet.

He would reportedly get out of bed in the middle of the night, take off his nightshirt and set off completely naked  carrying his favourite gun across the frozen fields towards his lake. Here he would ambush the ducks, fire a few shots and return to bed apparently none the worse for his ordeal. His most extraordinary day’s shooting came when he got fed up waiting for the birds to come within range, stripped naked, sat on the ice and slowly shuffled forward on the slippery surface until he was within range.

A fan of horse riding and hunting, Mad Jack set out to test if a horse pulling a carriage could jump over a tollgate. As many would have predicted it couldn’t.

In 1831 he fled to France to avoid his creditors, prison and court. After a couple of years he decided to return to England and ended up in the King’s Bench debtor’s prison in Southwark, London, where he died there in 1834 a ’round shouldered, tottering old-young man bloated by drink. Worn out by too much foolishness, too much wretchedness and too much brandy’.

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